Chesterton Tribune



Dispatchers honored at Porter County Council meeting

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Executive Director of Public Safety Mike Brickner presented awards to seven E911 dispatchers at the Porter County Council’s meeting last night.

The dispatchers were: Lindsey Lloyd, Jennifer Herron-Jolley, Darla Evans, Roberta Pollock, Jessica Scrivnor, Sandra Gallegos (a shift supervisor), and Scott Kleckner.

Brickner reported that he was motivated to give Porter County’s honorable mention award to five of the dispatchers and their supervisor after a July 31 incident where an armed robbery took place at a bank in Portage. The Portage Police were able to apprehend the suspect within minutes of dispatch. In the meantime, the dispatchers maintained contact with officers and transmitted information while handling 20 other calls. “Teamwork in our 911 center is crucial, especially in a high-pressure incident like this,” Brickner said.

Brickner continued, “I’ve said this many times, especially in the last year, but our 911 dispatchers are the unsung heroes. You don’t get to read about them in the headlines, but they are the backbone of public safety in Porter County.”

The last dispatcher, Scott Kleckner, received a different award. Brickner said he named it the “Stork award,” and Kleckner earned it following a July 30 call from a woman who went into labor while driving. Kleckner stayed on the phone with her to reassure her until first responders arrived in what Brickner said is an example of the special and varied skill set required to be a dispatcher. Kleckner was given a blue stork pin for his part in the baby boy’s entrance to the world.

Brickner made a somber note to highlight the ups and downs of being a dispatcher. Just a week later, Kleckner was the dispatcher who spoke to the rail conductor following the August 7 train accident that took the life of a Portage toddler and left another severely injured.

Highway Department

The Council also approved a $750,000 additional appropriation to the Highway Department in what new Highway Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor Rich Sexton and Jim Polarek say will be a cost saving measure over the new few years.

Sexton and Polarek had this plan--to return to in-house chip and sealing County roads-- approved at the last meeting of the Porter County Commissioners, and the Council was receptive, releasing the funds in an additional appropriation out of the local road and streets fund to fund other mobile equipment, which will include two large purchases that must be made this year to be cost effective.

Sexton and Polarek did research that included observing the use of chip and seal equipment in Newton County. They concluded that the County needs an asphalt zipper and a chip spreader. The last chip spreader the County owned was 30 years old, and the administration at the time opted to contract out for chip and seal rather than replace it.

Council member Karen Conover, R-3rd, asked about the asphalt zipper, which grinds the asphalt to prepare the surface and produces usable material in the process. “So we’re recycling our own asphalt on our roads with this machine? That’s remarkable.”

Though it may not be used until next year, buying the chip spreader this year is in the County’s best interest. The chip spreader is slated to be reclassified from Tier 3 to Tier 4 in terms of the Environmental Protection Agency’s motor vehicle emission and fuel standards. The cost of production for it will change, and the retail price tag will jump $40,000 with it, according to Sexton and Polarek.

Council Vice-president Jeremy Rivas, R-2nd, asked when the County will see savings from eliminating the middle man. Polarek reported that the equipment will pay for itself in saved contractor fees after four to six years, depending on how many miles of road the Department chip and seals each year.

Sexton said he is also looking into acquiring a striper because he read research suggesting that faded striping is a major cause of accidents, and keeping the stripes bright can reduce accidents by up to 51 percent. He found that a top-grade striper could cost up to $55,000. Council member Sylvia Graham, D-At-large, expressed her approval for the idea. “I think that’s really important because that’s a safety issue. I’ve had calls about that,” she said.

Animal Shelter

In a stroke of good news, Director of the Porter County Animal Shelter Toni Bianchi reported she is short on hourly wages due to a higher rate of intakes and adoptions.

The Council approved her request for an additional $10,000 to hourly wages transferred from the veterinary services fund. Bianchi says that veterinary services costs have also been down due to recent improvements to the shelter.

Adoptions are up 57 percent from this time last year. In June, more dogs and cats left the shelter than those that were brought in, Bianchi said.

Bianchi said more volunteers are also needed due to the increased activity. Volunteers must be 16 or older and must complete a three-step orientation program that includes watching an online video, attending an information session at the shelter, and shadowing an employee.

Those interested should visit


Posted 8/29/2018





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